What a time to ask me about heirlooms! Currently I’m clearing the contents of my parents’ cottage. They were both sentimental people, each keeping mementos and various vintage items. Some are special because of the person who gifted them, others were genuinely passed down through several generations. The reason why I’m finding it difficult to choose one of note, is because there’s a plethora to choose from!
I love my parents and the cosy home they created. I have great respect for their ethic of not buying new for the sake of it, instead they used or adapted what they already had – well before upcycling became a buzzword. They also used and enjoyed what they owned, Victorian tables and chairs now have chunks of veneer missing or chips to their feet because they were utilised in a busy family environment. I’ve watched programmes on ‘storage’ where the guru suggested keeping only what is useful or pleasing to the eye. But some days visiting their house I give a heavy sigh, it could be a candidate for a programme about hoarders!
We have some samplers, embroidered by an ancestor called Sarah, one I can describe was embroidered when she was 6 years old and another more complex one she completed a few years later. As a child I would study these framed pieces of intricate sewing, I was already older than 6, but could not sew as neatly so I was in awe. The sewing background was linen, not the grid-like fabric I learned to sew on at school, so more of a challenge to stitch the letters neatly. This sampler depicts the alphabet and numbers 1-10, sewn incredibly neatly. A sampler’s purpose, after all, was to familiarise young children with these rudiments of reading. Sewing these samplers was an acceptable pastime for Sundays, a task to tackle while the man of the house read verses from the Bible aloud, and my ancestor did a great job.
One thing I’ve noticed about the groups of objects which my parents had arranged attractively on surfaces, is that they were useful for a bygone era. Now vintage curios, they were originally designed and devised to cope with ‘problems’ we no longer have. Who transfers cigarettes from the cardboard carton to a precious metal engraved case in this millennium? Apart from the fact that cigarettes got longer and gained filtered tips (king size would not fit in any of the cases they have), tobacco is expensive. Even the most extravagant host/hostess no longer offers cigarettes around at parties.
Modern matches would also no longer be decanted to an attractive silver vessel with a rough area against which they could be struck, not since safety matches were invented, and gas filled disposable lighters. There are trinket boxes and snuff boxes, a bone china tea caddy – all items preloved and worn, owned by one of my parents or a predecessor of theirs.
Truthfully my most precious heirloom is memories of my parents, and the photographs which record their lives before I even knew them; those are absolutely priceless.
The prompt for #WickedWednesday is Family Heirloom